Atkins Criticism

The Atkins diet is very popular, but it also comes with a lot of criticism. Health experts, doctors and diet specialists come from all different opinions when it comes to the Atkins diet and other low carb diets. Some believe that it is dangerous, some say that it is a healthy method to lose weight and others say that it works on a short-term basis.

However, there are also thousands of individuals who have found success with the Atkins diet. They can speak from personal experience and know that the diet works and it is an effective means of keeping weight off. There are thousands of testimonials that tout the benefits of the low carb way of living.

There are many typical criticisms of the Atkins diet. One of the first is that the diet it too high in fat. The butter, oil and fatty meats that are used in the Atkins diet are a far cry from the low-fat diet fad that recently swept the nation. For many people, the low fat mindset has prevailed and they cannot fathom eating real butter or cream with their meals. It seems like too much fat at first glance. However, those that pay close attention to Dr. Atkins guidelines and follow the program closely know that the diet focuses on good fats. Extra virgin olive oil and other helpful fats are emphasized. The proper use of these oils is important to brain function and mood management.

Another popular Atkins criticism is that it focuses too much on food and not enough on exercise. This is an unfair claim because the Atkins books clearly spell out a need for exercise. There is a lot of attention paid to food choices because they are an integral part of the program, and they are different foods than what people are normally used to eating. However, this does not mean that exercise is not an integral part of the Atkins program. Aerobic and anaerobic exercise regimens are encouraged, and both will greatly increase your weight loss efforts.

Many Atkins critics feel that the diet is hard too keep up in the long term. Critics in this category will admit that Atkins is effective in short-term weight loss efforts, but point out that the lifestyle is hard to maintain over time. However, people who have had long term success with Atkins claim it is one of the easiest diets to follow for significant periods of time. The Atkins plan has rich food that is forbidden on other programs, and it has appetite-suppressing effects. When you combine this with the quick weight loss, a motivating factor for many people, Atkins is easy to stick to long term.

The side effects of Atkins, like constipation and bad breath, have also been a topic that Atkins critics are quick to point out. However, these side effects are not as common as critics make them out to be. If they do occur, the side effects normal only last through the first phase of the diet. Additionally, drinking additional water will normally take care of both problems rather quickly.

There are pros and cons to many diets. If you don’t particularly enjoy preparing and eating meat, then Atkins is probably not for you. But if you are considering Atkins, make sure to look beyond the common criticisms for the truth about the diet.


Planning for Atkins

When it comes to the Atkins diet, your success will lie in your planning. Making sure you have the proper foods on hand when you begin your diet will go a long way toward your ongoing weight loss. There are many suggestions for Atkins diet meals in the Atkins books, and there are plenty of resources online for Atkins and low-carb recipes.

Planning your meals and snacks will be an important part of your life when you are on this diet. That advice really goes for any diet. When you eat whatever you like, you gain weight. Your current weight and health problems are a direct result of letting your eating habits go unchecked for so long.

As with all diet plans, becoming used to the Atkins way of eating is going to take some time and adjustment. The standard American diet relies heavily on carbohydrates and other restricted foods. Many people grew up on carbohydrate heavy favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, meat and potatoes and pasta casserole. It is going to take some effort and patience to get used to eating in an entirely new way.

There are two different approaches you can take in adjusting your diet. You can find replacements for your favorite foods with “mock” carbohydrates. For example, lasagna made with eggplant or zucchini instead of pasta is much more carb-friendly than the regular variety. Spaghetti squash noodles make a good substitute for spaghetti noodles. There are also many low-carb or carb-free replacements for bread, pasta and sugar products.

The second approach is to find out how to make new recipes that center around meats and other low-carb foods. There are a wide variety of meats that are acceptable on the Atkins plan. If you are used to just eating ground beef or chicken on a weekly basis, you’ll be surprised by the variety of meats that are out there. Try incorporating pork, lamb and ham into your weekly routine. You can also experiment with game fowl like Cornish hen, quail and pheasant. If you’ve never been a fan of fish, try a different variety. Some people who don’t like trout find they have a love of salmon or another fish. Don’t forget shellfish like mussels, clams and shrimp. These foods are all acceptable and can add variety to your diet.

Make sure to have some easy to prepare foods on hand for snacks and quick meals. For example, thin sliced cucumbers, radishes and celery mixed with lemon mayonnaise makes a great low-carb meal or dinner salad. Fried peppers, mushrooms and garlic served on arugula with feta cheese is another good option.

Research and try out different low-carb recipes so you have a good base of knowledge of what to prepare for meals. The most important step you can take in losing weight is planning. Getting a good arsenal of easy to prepare meals will prevent you from hitting the drive through or going to a restaurant and breaking your diet.

If you have delicious food to look forward to everyday, you’ll be less bored with your diet. Even during the restrictive induction phase, there are many food combinations that you can use. At first glance, the vegetable and meat options may seem restrictive. But this is only in comparison to what you have been used to eating. With a little planning and creativity, you can find something interesting to eat everyday.


Atkins Maintenance

The final phase of the Atkins diet plan is lifetime maintenance. This is the time to continue your new eating plan at a maintenance level and keep yourself at your goal weight. The habits you have created will now become a permanent way of life. During the third phase, pre-maintenance, you learned exactly how many carbohydrate grams your body can tolerate and still maintain your ideal weight. In this phase, you’ll put this approach into practice and learn to live with your ideal carb count on a daily basis.

During lifetime maintenance you will continue to expand your food selections and eat more carbohydrate grams than you did previously. Depending on your specific metabolic needs, you can eat some of the foods that you enjoyed prior to starting your weight loss program. If you do choose to eat these foods, they must be moderated and used sparingly.

Keeping your daily carb count right around your ideal carb count is the easiest way to maintain your weight loss. You weight may fluctuate by two or three pounds from time to time, but this is perfectly normal. This weight fluctuation is due to hormonal changes in your body.

During maintenance you’ll also learn how to overcome your previous bad habits. Losing weight and keeping it off means dealing with real-world situations. You’ll develop coping strategies for stress eating, emotional eating and holiday eating. You’ll also develop plans for dealing with eating out in restaurants. The challenges during the maintenance phase are many, but they can be overcome.

It’s all about preparation. When you’ve followed the Atkins diet plan for a long time, you’ve learned exactly how many carbohydrate grams you can handle. You’ve also learned what foods trigger carbohydrate cravings and which foods lead to binges. You’ve developed coping strategies over the course of your OWL and pre-maintenance phases that you will have to use in lifetime maintenance.

To prepare yourself for lifetime maintenance, make a promise to yourself never to go back to your previous weight. Make the commitment by donating all of your “fat” clothes. This way, if you do start to gain more than five pounds, you’ll know that you have to buckle down and eat better. Also, write down in a journal or in a list format all of the benefits of being at your new, thinner size. Write about how much better you feel and how healthy you are. This will cement your new way of life into your mind and your heart.

Choose your lifetime maintenance weight goal range. This is a range of weight that is acceptable to you. For example, if your initial weight loss goal was to be 165 lbs, your lifetime maintenance goal will be 160 to 170 pounds. If your weight starts to creep up toward 170 pounds, then you know that you are being too lenient with your carbohydrate grams. Never let your weight vary more than 3 to 5 pounds in either direction.

Make a commitment to weigh yourself at least once a week. This once-a-week weigh in will give you a good idea of how you are doing on your maintenance program. Use that weekly weight as a guideline for your approach in eating for the following week.

In addition to these guidelines, make sure to continue an exercise program. Your metabolism depends entirely upon the amount of exercise that you are getting. Making the commitment to exercise goes hand in hand with the commitment to keep eating correctly.

By following these guidelines, you can make lifetime maintenance simple and easy.


Atkins and Ketosis

The basic principle of the Atkins diet is that a state of ketosis will help you burn your fat stores as energy. Many people, even those who are on low carbohydrate diets, don’t quite understand ketosis and why it works.

Most diets are calorie-reduction diets. They help you lose weight, but some of the weight is from fat and some of it is from lean muscle tissue. While you may look smaller on the scale, your metabolism is actually slowing down. The more muscle you lose the slower your metabolism will be. This makes losing weight more difficult and gaining weight back even simpler.

The Atkins diet, on the other hand, is carbohydrate restrictive. It creates a state of ketosis in your body that burns only fat, and not muscle. The primary source of your energy for your body will be fat in the form of ketones. Your liver will convert fat into ketones and it cannot be converted back. It will be excreted naturally.

Ketones are actual a normally and efficient source of fuel for the human body. They are created in the liver from the fatty acids that result from the breakdown of body fat. These only appear when there is an absence of glucose and sugar. In the Atkins diet, you reduce the amount of glucose and sugar that is in the bloodstream. As a result, your body produces ketones for fuel. When your body is creating ketones it is called ketosis.

There is a common misconception that following a ketogenic diet like Atkins is dangerous. The truth is that being in ketosis is a completely naturally state. The human body creates ketones to use as fuel in the absence of glucose.

In the Atkins diet book, Dr. Atkins suggests using ketone-testing strips to determine your state of ketosis during dieting. These small plastic strips are held in the urine stream and contain a special chemically treated absorptive pad. This pad will change color if ketones are present in the urine. With the presence of ketones, the strip will change varying shades of pink to purple. There is a color scale on the label of the bottle that will help you determine your ketone levels.

Ketone strips are available in any pharmacy and can be found among the diabetic supplies. In some stores, they are kept behind the counter so you may have to ask for them. You won’t need a prescription to buy them though. Once you open a package of ketosis strips they have a shelf life of 6 months. It may be helpful to mark the opening date on the box.

Ketone strips will let you know if you are progressing correctly on the Atkins diet. If you are following the Induction plan to the letter and aren’t seeing purple, don’t worry. Some people never show trace amounts of ketones or they may show just above the minimum line. As long as you are losing weight and inches then you are successfully using ketones. Also, if you’ve just exercised a few hours before using the strips, you may not see purple.

Some dieters may mistakenly believe that a dark purple result on the testing strips means that they are losing weight faster. Actually, the darkest purple color is a sign of dehydration. It means that your urine is too concentrated and you need to drink water.

Ketones come from fat in the bloodstream, whether it is fat that you eat or fat that you burn. So if you eat a meal heavy in fat and then immediately use a testing strip, then you’ll see a dark purple result. Use the strips as a guide, but don’t get hung up on the color.

Reaching a state of ketosis is key to success on the Atkins diet and it as simple as eliminating carbohydrates from the diet. Make sure to follow the eating plan correctly and use the ketone testing strips as needed.


Pros and cons of the Atkins diet

The Atkins diet is one of the most popular low carbohydrate diets on the market today. Its popularity has sparked dozens of look-a-like diets who center on the same principles of high-protein, low-carbohydrate eating. There are a lot of fish in the sea when it comes to choosing a low-carbohydrate plan.

Studies have shown that low-carbohydrate eating has many benefits. There have been scientific results that low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins do create significant weight loss without having to restrict calories. People who use the Atkins diet have also reported this. There are studies that show that low-carb eating improves triclycerides, reduces blood glucose for diabetics and pre-diabetics and increases good cholesterol (HDL). Low-carbohydrate dieting has been scientifically proven to improve insulin sensitivity, decrease blood pressure and lower blood insulin levels. When compared with low-fat diets, low-carb dieters lose less muscle mass.

Although not scientifically proven, there are many common benefits reported by Atkins dieters and other low-carb dieters. These include an increase in energy, a reduced craving for sweets, better concentration, improved mood and an lessening of depression type symptoms.

However, there are also some benefits that are specific to the Atkins diet. If you have been a low fat dieter in previous years, you’ll enjoy eating all of those “forbidden foods” that you once had to go without. Steak, butter and cream are a regular part of Atkins dieters’ meals. There is a certain pleasure that goes along with eating foods that were once off limits. Atkins dieters are encouraged to eat their full of rich meats, cheeses and fats and oils.

Atkins is also simple to use, compared with some other low-carb diets on the market. There are some basic food carbohydrate counts that you’ll need to learn, but after that, you are free to eat from the acceptable food lists.

Dr. Atkins also emphasized finding your own personal carbohydrate level. Different people have different levels of carbohydrate tolerance. While some gain weight on just 90 carbohydrate grams a day, others can live comfortably at 120 carbohydrate grams. During the ongoing weight loss phase and pre-maintenance phase of the diet, you will learn your personal carbohydrate count that will help determine your carbohydrate goal for life.

The popularity of Atkins is a double-edged sword for dieters. There is a lot of information available on the diet, which makes it easy to find resources and support. There have been many, many Atkins books written and there are endless amounts of websites that offer tips and group support. However, everyone has heard of Atkins and probably has an opinion on it. There are some big misconceptions out there about the nature of the diet, and you’ll no doubt have to defend your new way of eating from time to time.

There are some other minimal downsides to using the Atkins program. You do need to count carbohydrates in everything you eat to make sure that you are staying within your personal carbohydrate range. There is also the issue of Induction, the most hotly debate aspect of the plan. Induction can be difficult to get through if you’ve had a diet that centers on carbs and sugar. Also, many people try Induction and mistakenly believe that this is the way that the whole diet is going to be. They end up quitting before they get into the actual Atkins plan.

Sometimes, although it is not common, people will experience a carb crash on the 3rd to 5th day of the diet. This reaction is a result of their body finally experiencing ketosis, or running on fat instead of carbohydrates. The effects are transient, but many people have sworn off low-carb diets entirely because of this happenstance.

Overall, with the minor drawbacks considered, Atkins is one of the most popular low-carb diets for a reason. It works. Thousands of people have had success with the Atkins approach to the low-carb way of living.


Atkins Diet Basics

The Atkins diet is not a new phenomenon. The diet first appeared in the late 1970s and has grown popularity in recent years in response to the low-fat diet craze. As dieters had trouble with low-fat plans, they searched for a new solution and Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution book found a new audience.

A lot of people have jumped on the Atkins bandwagon and there has been a lot of hype as a result. But what are the basic principles of the Atkins diet?

The Atkins diet is based on a theory of why we get fat. According to Dr. Atkins, the over-consumption of carbohydrates and simple sugars leads to weight gain. The way your body processes the carbohydrates you eat have more to do with your waistline than the amount of fat or calories that you consume. In his book, Atkins outlines a phenomenon called “insulin resistance.” He theorizes that many overweight people have cells that do not work correctly.

When you eat excess carbohydrates and sugar, your body notices that sugar levels are elevated. Insulin is released from the pancreas in order to store sugar as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells for extra energy later on. However, your body can only store so much glycogen at once. As soon as your body reaches its limit for glycogen storage, the excess carbohydrates are stored as fat. This happens to everyone who eats too many carbohydrates.

However, insulin resistant individuals have an even harder time of using and storing excess carbohydrates. The more insulin that your body is exposed to, the more resistant it becomes. Overtime, the pancreas releases more insulin and cells become insulin resistant. The cells are trying to protect themselves from the toxic effects of high insulin. They create less glycogen and more fat.

As a result, insulin resistant individuals gain extra weight. The carbohydrates get converted into fat instead of energy. Other side effects include fatigue, brain “fog” (the inability to focus, poor memory, loss of creativity), low blood sugar (which can leads to hypoglycemia), intestinal bloating, sleepiness, depression and increased blood sugar. There is much more than weight at stake when you are insulin resistant.

The remedy for people who are insulin resistant is a diet restricted in carbohydrates. The crux of the Atkins diet is a limitation of carbohydrates in all of its forms. The foods restricted on the Atkins plan include simple sugars (like cookies, sodas and sweets) and complex carbohydrates (like bread, rice and grains). Even carbohydrates that are considered healthy, such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat bread, are restricted on the program.

The diet has you restrict your carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams a day. This will put your body in a state of ketosis. While in ketosis, your body will burn fat as fuel. According to Dr. Atkins’ research, the ketosis state will also affect insulin production and it will prevent more fat from being formed. Your body will begin using your stored fat as an efficient form of fuel, and you’ll lose weight.

Another benefit of the Atkins plan is that ketosis will end your cravings for carbohydrates. If you’ve been living on a carb-heavy diet, you may have found that you simply cannot get enough carbohydrates. With carbohydrate restriction and ketosis comes a reduction in carbohydrate cravings. People who have been on the Atkins diet for some time report that they do not crave carbohydrates as they once did.

Although the initial phases of the Atkins diet are rather strict, the program teaches you to restore balance to your diet in the long run. People who use the diet slowly reintroduce minimal amounts of carbohydrate into their eating until they find a comfortable balance between their health and carbohydrate use.

The basic principles of the Atkins diet have been adapted to many other low-carb diet plans. However, Atkins popularity still remains strong as one of the most effective low-carbohydrate solutions for those who are insulin resistant.


Atkins and Exercise

There is a lot of attention paid in the Atkins diet plan towards food and cooking. It’s true that your food choices on the diet are of utmost importance. But a lot of people make the mistake of ignoring exercise. The newly released Atkins food pyramid shows the importance of exercise. It shows an increase in food options with increased activity. Exercise is important on the Atkins diet, and important for everyone’s overall health.

Exercise is beneficial to body, mind and soul. It has many major benefits, even at limited levels. It not only burns fat but it boosts your metabolism and increases circulation. Daily exercise helps your body eliminate toxins through sweat glands and lymph systems. It is especially important to all low-carb weight loss programs because it regulates blood sugar levels.

Physical exercise is essential for Atkins diet success. Without exercise, your body isn’t configured to process carbohydrates successfully. Research has shown that sedentary individuals have extreme insulin reactions to even moderate amounts of carbohydrates. This means that exercise doesn’t only help you lose weight, it will help you keep it off too. Exercise will teach your body how to process the carbohydrates in your diet. When you exercise regularly, you’ll be able to eat more carbohydrates over time because your body will use them efficiently.

There are two basic types of exercise: aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise. The best regimen combines these two forms each week.

Aerobic exercise’s primary goal is to increase your heart rate. This causes your body to consume more oxygen and it gives all of your cells a fresh supply of oxygen. If you’ve been without physical activity for a while, many of those cells have been deprived. Aerobic exercise will regenerate them and help you feel better in times when you aren’t exercising.

If you’ve been inactive for a while, it may take some time to get used to your new aerobic workouts. You may want to get some advice from your primary care doctor or a professional aerobics instructor. Make sure to start slowly to give yourself time to adjust to your new movements. It’s essential that you learn how to stretch and warm up correctly in order to avoid muscle strain. Some good beginning aerobic activities include walking, golf, tennis and dancing. These activities won’t cause a lot of strain on your body, but they will get your heart moving. Start slowly and set small goals for yourself. For example, if you are starting a walking program begin by walking four blocks. Then increase your training to five blocks, then six. Your body will respond well to the exercise…after all your body was meant to move!

Anaerobic exercise includes any activity that isn’t technically aerobic. Most of the exercises in this category build muscle mass. Weightlifting and strength training are examples of anaerobic exercises. Working out with weights is an important part of losing weight. As you lose fat, you’ll need to replace it with muscle in order to stay lean. Don’t be afraid of working out with weights. You won’t need to become a bodybuilder. Weight bearing exercises like isometrics and resistance training will help improve your bone density, your posture and your fat burning potential.

If an exercise program is not part of your weight loss efforts, you are setting yourself up for failure. Make a commitment to incorporating exercise into your weight loss efforts and you’ll see the results immediately.


Atkins Shopping Tips

When you start the Atkins diet, you are entering a new world of eating. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the supermarket. Suddenly, all of your stand-by foods like macaroni and cheese, pasta and bread are no longer on your shopping list. When you go shopping for the first few times you may feel like a fish out of water. However, with a bit of practice you’ll feel just as comfortable as you were with your previous shopping lists.

Successful Atkins shopping starts before you reach the store. There are many resources for shopping lists online and in Atkins books. Before you head for the store, make a list of the week’s recipes and then decide what you’ll need to make each meal. Make sure to purchase low-carb snacks for in between meals.

Also, plan for modifications to the meals for other people in your home. You won’t be able to make totally different meals for yourself and your family for the long term. The best approach is to use the main meat dish for your meal for the entire family and then a carbohydrate side dish for your family. For example, if you are eating meatloaf you can add half a potato for the other members of your family.

Once you’ve made your meal plan for the week, its time to hit the store. When you arrive, buy your protein items and produce first. This may sound very simple and like it won’t make much difference, but it will. Once you’ve filled your cart with all of the acceptable foods, there won’t be room for much more.

Consider buying your meat in bulk. This will save you lots of money if you know where to get family sized packages of meat. When you buy meat in large quantities, you can also cook it in bulk as well. Taking time a few days per week to cook meat makes it simple to follow the Atkins plan. You can cook your meat before hand and have it ready to go when you need it. You can purchase ground beef, chicken pieces, small steaks and even seafood in bulk.

Cheese, if you can tolerate it, can also be purchased in bulk. Many stores offer store-brand cheese in large bricks. You’ll need to make sure to read the labels before you purchase any cheese. Make sure that when you eat cheese to eat some fiber (salad or raw veggies) as well. Having large blocks of your favorite cheeses on hand can make it easy to grab a quick snack between meals.

As you walk around the store, stick to the outer edges. The outer aisles have the freshest food. Think about your neighborhood grocery store. Most often the deli, the meat counter and the produce section are all along the sides of the store with the packaged items in the aisles. This is especially important if you are in the initial phases of the Atkins diet. You’ll want to stay away from all packaged foods during induction, even if they are low carb packaged foods. Once you add more carbohydrate grams to your daily limit, you can start to experiment with low-carb packaged foods.

That leads to the next important tip – read the labels! Just because an item says it is low carb, it may have hidden sugars. Do your investigative work at the grocery store so you won’t get home with products that cause you to gain weight.

Shopping for the Atkins diet will take some time to get used to. You’ll be navigating parts of the grocery store that you may not be familiar with. You’ll also be purchasing items you’ve never cooked before. However, with planning and dedication low carb shopping will become easier. Just remember to make a list before you visit the store and stay toward the outer aisles of the grocery store. In no time, you’ll be an experienced low carb shopper.


Common mistakes of Atkins dieters

The Atkins diet is one of the simplest weight loss plans to follow. Although the principles are clearly set out in the books, there are some common misconceptions that occur for dieters. These mistakes can make a big difference in the amount of weight you lose and effectiveness of the diet overall. If Atkins isn’t working for you, or you find yourself suddenly gaining weight after weeks of effective dieting, make sure you aren’t making any of these common mistakes.

First, make sure to be patient with your weight loss. If you lose 8 lbs per week on the Induction phase and then slow down once you enter ongoing weight loss phase, this is perfectly normal. The level of carbohydrate grams that are acceptable on the Induction portion of the diet are not meant to carry you through the rest of your dieting experience. Induction is meant to break you of carbohydrate cravings and detoxify your body from sugar. Starting with the ongoing weight loss phase, you will begin introducing small levels of carbohydrate grams each week. This may slow down weight loss a bit from the level it was at during Induction, but this is completely normal.

Also, people are different and react differently to the diet. Some people lose weight in spurts, and other lose weight more steadily. A plateau can last for a few weeks and then voila, you’ve lost five pounds in a matter of a few days.

Make sure you are avoiding caffeine in all of its forms as well as aspartame, a common artificial sweetener. Both of these chemicals can impact blood sugar levels negatively. Look out for caffeine in coffee and diet sodas. Watch out for aspartame in diet sodas and sugar-free gelatin. These can cause cravings for sugar and take your body out of ketosis after just one serving.

Watch your daily intake of cheese. Although cheese is on the acceptable foods list, it does have small amount of carbohydrates. Your best bet is to limit your cheese intake to 4 oz per day. You can have more on special occasions, but it should not be used as your mainstay for protein. Meats, eggs and tofu are much better choices and don’t contain carbohydrate grams.

Remember to emphasize vegetables during Induction and beyond. Your carbohydrate grams should be primarily derived from leafy, green vegetables and other acceptable vegetable choices. Vegetables fill you up without spiking your blood sugar. They provide essential fiber and nutrients that help your weight loss efforts and overall health. After induction, you should have 3-4 cups of salad and 1 cup of cooked vegetables each day. Make sure the vegetables you are using are on the acceptable foods list. Eliminating vegetables from your diet can shut down your metabolism and cause your weight loss to stall.

It is also very important that you eat regularly while you are on the Atkins plan. Never go more than five waking hours without eating a combined snack of protein and fats. Two things happen when you skip meals. First, you cause a blood sugar drop that will have you craving carbohydrates like bread and sugar. Secondly, continued periods of not eating will slow down your metabolism and make it even harder to lose weight.

Finally, make sure you are drinking enough water each day. Water has a myriad of benefits for every human being, not just those on the Atkins diet. Thirst can sometimes be masked as hunger, so staying well hydrated will keep you from craving foods you shouldn’t be eating. Water also helps you avoid constipation, which is an occasional side effect of the Atkins diet. Drinking 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day will also help you flush out the toxins from your system that are produced when you burn fat.

These common mistakes can make people frustrated with the Atkins diet when there is no need to be. If you are just starting out on the diet, make sure to prepare yourself for these mistakes. If you’ve been on the diet for some time, evaluate your eating habits and make sure you are following the program correctly.


Atkins Induction

Atkins diet foods are easy to find and available everywhere. There are many varieties to choose from, whether you pick prepackaged low-carb diet foods or make your own meals. No matter how you want to do the Atkins plan, there is a solution out there for you.

You’ll need to keep the Atkins food pyramid in mind when you make food choices. The Atkins pyramid looks much different than the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. The base of the pyramid consists of protein sources such as eggs, fish, beef, chicken and tofu. On a daily basis, your diet should consist primarily of these foods. The second tier has low glycemic vegetables like salad greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and spinach.

The third tier is made up of berries and avocado. Fruits should be used on an occasional basis after the initial stages of the Atkins diet. Vegetable and seed oils, cheese, dairy, nuts and legumes are used sparingly and in appropriate portions. While the FDA pyramid has oils and fats at the top peak, the Atkins pyramid places whole grain foods in this spot. Whole grain foods should be used very occasionally and don’t make up the mainstay of the Atkins diet.

When you start the Atkins plan, you’ll need to make sure you understand which foods are acceptable for your stage of the program. The Induction phase is the most restrictive, but it only lasts two weeks.

You owe it to your dieting success to stay within the acceptable foods list. One of the best ways to do this is to follow the Atkins menu plans that are printed within the New Diet Revolution book. There are also Atkins cookbooks and cookbooks that are geared toward other low carb diets that are helpful in formulating meal plans.

It’s a helpful idea to use a cheat sheet of acceptable Atkins foods wherever you go. If you are out and about and hungry, the last thing you want to do is to try to think back in your memory to figure out what you can and cannot eat. Carrying a list of acceptable foods with you will make finding a snack or meal while out on the run easy. You can’t always rely on “low carb” labels to tell you whether or not something is diet friendly. Ever since low carb became the new diet craze, manufacturers have been jumping on the bandwagon to attract Atkins dieters. They label items low carb to sell products and don’t have your health in mind. Relying on foods from your own personal list is the best way to stay on the plan.

Another good resource for keeping track of the appropriate Atkins foods is an online diet program. There are several available. Some are free and some have a small monthly fee. The programs require you to register and then they provide you with personal weekly menu plans based on your needs and your carbohydrate gram level. There are normally printable weekly shopping lists that make picking up your Atkins diet foods from the grocery store easy and quick.

Atkins diet food is easy to find once you know what you are looking for. The books, food pyramid and online resources can help you make better food choices and stay on the diet for the long term.


Atkins OWL Phase

The second phase of the Atkins diet is called Ongoing Weight Loss or OWL. After the rapid weight loss of the 2-week Induction phase, you’ll be slowing your weight loss down just a bit. You’ll add in specific carbohydrates that will make your diet a little easier and your weight loss just a bit slower. However, you will continue to lose weight at a steady even pace with ease.

During the OWL phase you will boost your body’s ability to burn fats. Although you’ll be adding carbohydrates slowly, you’ll still remain in the state of ketosis. You will continue to use your excess fat as fuel for your body, and the pounds and inches will continue to come off.

The OWL phase will also teach you to make better carbohydrate choices. The recipes and guidelines for OWL will increase your knowledge about nutritious food. You’ll replace the poor carbohydrate choices that you relied on in the past with new and better choices.

You’ll also learn how many carbohydrates you can consume and still lose weight. The process of the OWL phase is an experiment in what your specific body does with carbs. During the OWL phase, you’ll gradually increase your daily carb intake from the 20-gram level that you used in induction. Each week you’ll try adding another 5 grams of carbs and then take note of what happens. When weight loss slows too much, you’ll know that you’ve exceeded your personal carb limit.

OWL also prepares you for your permanent weight management program (called maintenance). The habits and practices that you develop during OWL will go a long way toward your long-term success. Treat this period of your diet as training for the real “test” – your post diet life.

During the OWL phase, you’ll still be getting most of your carbohydrates from vegetables (just as you do during Induction). It’s important to continue to eat a wide variety of vegetables, as they are good for your overall health and good for maintaining intestinal health during the Atkins diet. You will be able to add more portions of vegetables, and then gradually be able to add nuts, seeds and even berries. However, the main focus of the diet will still be protein.

In a way, the Induction phase is easier than any of the other phases of Atkins. The strict plan always works and always produces weight loss. As you enter the OWL phases, you’ll need to be more mindful of your carbohydrate count and keep better track of your weight. You’ll have more choice and that may lead to more temptations, which could result in a stalling of your weight loss or even weight gain.

Counting carbohydrate grams is critical in your OWL success. If you don’t count, you will end up consuming more carbohydrates than you should. However, there are many tools available that can help you with counting. There are several handy, portable books that will tell you the number of grams of carbohydrates in certain foods. Over time, you’ll know the “carb count” for your favorite foods instantly.

Counting carbs is also essential during the OWL phase because you are playing detective. You are investigating to find your personal carb count, the amount of carbohydrate grams that you can eat daily and still lose weight. During the first week of OWL, you’ll move from 20 carbohydrate grams to 25. It is recommended that you add this in the form of more vegetables, like asparagus or cauliflower. You’ll continue at the 25-gram level for a week, and then move up to 30 grams a day.

As you increase your carbohydrate gram level, watch your weight closely. If you experience too much of a slowdown, you know you’ve gone too high. You’ll find your maximum carbohydrate gram level when you stop losing weight at all. When this happens, you’ll know you’ve reached your limit. Once you discover your personal carb count, drop down below that number if you want to continue losing weight.


Atkins Pre Maintenance Phase

After experiencing the Induction and OWL phases of the Atkins diet, your next step is to enter the pre-maintenance phase. This phase will set you up for a lifetime of healthy and balanced eating and living. You should begin this phase as you come within 5 to 10 pounds of your target weight goal. Your weight loss will be slowed down even further but it is for a purpose. You want to learn the practices and habits that will determine your long-term success.

In the OWL phase, you will be adding carbohydrate grams to your daily count in the increment of 5 grams per week. During pre-maintenance you will increase that to 10 grams per week. As long as you are continuing to shed weight (no matter how slowly it is coming off) you will continue to add grams. Ideally, toward the end of the pre-maintenance phase you will be losing less than one pound per week.

According to the Atkins book, you should continue this phase until you get to your goal weight and can maintain it for a month. This process may take anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Your goal is to reach a state called “carbohydrate equilibrium.” This is your ideal carbohydrate intake and it will cause you to maintain your weight perfectly.

During pre-maintenance you’ll get to try a wider variety of foods. Make sure to introduce new foods slowly and increase your carbohydrate intake at a measured pace. Don’t add 20 or 30 carb grams a week. Measuring out the increases in increments of 10 will give you a better idea of your personal carbohydrate count. Knowing this number will help set you up for long term weight management.

Make sure to check with a carbohydrate counter resource book or a trusted website before you add a new food to your diet. Some examples of 10 carbohydrate gram foods include 1/3 of a cup of legumes, ½ an apple, ¼ cup of potatoes and ½ cup of plain oatmeal. These foods can be included on a daily basis, and then increased the next week.

Pre-maintenance is not a perfect process. It takes a delicate balance of carbohydrate counting and exercise to slow weight loss yet still move it forward. You’ll need to pay even closer attention than you have before to make sure that your carb gram increase is not resulting in an increase in weight. There is a fine line between gaining, maintaining and losing, and during pre-maintenance you are trying to find out just exactly where that line is.

If you aren’t able to add carbohydrates without stalling your weight loss, you may have a high metabolic resistance. You will benefit from increasing your exercise regimen to get your metabolism burning at a higher level. For you, the pre-maintenance phase will resemble OWL more closely.

Some people do a variation on pre-maintenance that allows them to have a treat once a week. Instead of adding 10 grams per day, they allow themselves a 20 to 30-carbohydrate gram treat a few times a week. Examples of the treat could be a piece of a fruit or a serving of sweet potatoes. A glass of white wine or beer also qualifies for this treat. This is a fun way to reward yourself and still be on the plan.

Yet another way to do pre-maintenance is to average out your carbohydrate intake for the week. Since life is sometimes unpredictable, it can be helpful to have a bit of flexibility in your eating plan. For example, if your current carbohydrate level is at 70 grams, you can limit yourself to 50 grams one day. Then the next day, you can splurge a bit on a meal and have 90 grams for that day. However, only follow this method if it doesn’t create carbohydrate cravings. Sometimes excess carb grams on one day can make you crave them even more the next day.

The pre-maintenance phase will give you the tools for long-term success. By learning to slowly increase your carbohydrate grams, you’ll have a better hold on the amount of carbohydrates that is right for you.


Carbohydrate Substitutes for the Atkins diet

Cutting down on carbohydrates with the Atkins diet is easy when you see the wide variety of proteins and vegetables that are on the acceptable foods list. However, it does take some time and adjustment to get used to this new way of eating. A lot of the American diet centers around complex carbohydrate foods like breads and pastas. Snack foods are full of sugars and refined carbohydrates. This new way of eating will challenge your old habits. However, there are many carbohydrate substitutes that can fill in the gap.

Some of the most popular replacement items are sugar substitutes. These can be good or bad depending on how you react to them. Each person has a different reaction to artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda. They can be helpful in baking low-carbohydrate treats and making things taste sweet without risking sugar use. However, many people find that using artificial sweeteners makes them crave sugar even more. If you find you want more sweet treats after drinking a diet soda or eating a snack made with Splenda, its best to eliminate them entirely from your diet.

Bread is the number one challenge that Atkins dieters face when looking at their new diet plans. Bread is a staple food for many people, and eliminating it can be somewhat of a problem. There are some low carb breads available out there, but you have to watch for hidden carbohydrates and other unacceptable ingredients. If you are ambitious, you can try making your own bread out of almond flour or other non-traditional flours.

Many people say that they love pasta, but people vary rarely eat it plain. The best part about pasta is the topping. So taking those toppings (meat, cheese and vegetables) and putting them over something else is an easy solution. Many people who follow the Atkins plan have found that squash makes a good pasta substitute. Spaghetti squash, a yellow orange gourd with stringy insides, is a natural base for homemade meat sauce. Zucchini is also a good pasta substitute. You can grate in into fine pieces or chunk it up into sections to act as a base for sauces. Lasagna is easily made with large pieces of eggplant as a substitute for the noodles. The meats and cheeses used in lasagna are low-carb so there’s nothing to worry about there.

Another common problem for Atkins dieters is finding a good substitute for rice. One popular solution is to use cauliflower. Simply place the cauliflower florettes in a food processor and chop them until they are rice sizes pieces. Then microwave the “rice” without water. The pieces will come out fluffy and ready to be used in casseroles or as part of a side dish.

Cauliflower is also a popular potato substitute for Atkins dieters. This time, puree the cauliflower until it is smooth and creamy, just like mashed potatoes. You can add your favorite low-carb topping to it like bacon, sour cream and cheese.

Pizza is a favorite food for many people, but there are Atkins friendly solutions for homemade pizzas that taste just as good. You can make small pizzas using low-carb tortillas as the crust. You can also use the same method with large Portobello mushrooms. If the alternative crust options don’t sound good to you, you can also try a pizza casserole with all of the ingredient layered in a casserole dish.

These substitutes will help you avoid indulging in your high-carb favorites while on the Atkins diet.


Carbohydrate Cravings and the Atkins diet

Carbohydrate cravings are difficult to deal with, especially when you are trying to maintain a low carbohydrate way of life. However, carbohydrate cravings are not just a matter of will power. As Dr. Atkins points out in his book, carbohydrates produce a flood of insulin and a rise in blood sugar. There is indeed a physical trigger for carbohydrate cravings, and it is one of the reasons that it is so easy to develop a high-carbohydrate, low protein way of eating.

There are many signs of physical carbohydrate cravings. You will experience a compelling hunger for carbohydrate rich foods. Overtime, you will develop a growing need for starches, snack foods and sweets. Additionally, you may experience cravings and weight gain after using some of the carbohydrate act-a-likes such as sugar substitutes and alcohol.

High carbohydrate foods are everywhere, which makes the cravings even harder to overcome. Eating the high-sugar, refined starch foods will feed your cravings and create more, much like a drug habit. In fact, high levels of carbohydrates produce high levels of the brain chemical seratonin, which is the chemical found in Prozac and other anti-depressants. So eating high levels of carbohydrates is self-medicating. People with low levels of seratonin are prone to using carbohydrates like a drug.

Tension and stress can also lead to overeating carbohydrate-laden foods. When we are tense, the adrenal gland creates more cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that stimulates production of a brain chemical that causes carbohydrate cravings. It also stimulates insulin, which leads to blood sugar dips and more fat storage.

Considering all of these factors, it may seem impossible to live on a low-carbohydrate diet. However, following the Atkins plan is one of the best ways to break the cycle of carbohydrate addiction and take back your life and your health. The Atkins plan helps you take control of your cravings and rid yourself of years of damage caused by eating too many carbohydrates.

While on the Atkins diet, you may experience some carbohydrate cravings from time to time, especially during the initial phases of the diet. However, these will lessen as your body becomes more used to eating a protein-centered diet. In order to keep your cravings in check, eat small meals or snacks that contain protein every few hours. This will keep your blood sugars stable and avoid the “crash” you feel when you go hungry. Skipping meals will cause drops in blood sugar and leave you craving sweets.

Protein and fat, which are the focus of the Atkins plan, will give your body extended energy. Make sure you are getting enough levels of the essential fats. Sometimes an Omega 3 fish oil supplement will help stave off carbohydrate cravings.

Cravings for foods can sometimes be caused by dehydration. It’s a good rule of thumb to drink a glass of water before reaching for any type of snack. Sometimes thirst can mask itself as hunger. When your body is properly hydrated, it will run more efficiently and you will see a decrease in cravings.

Recognize that there is a physical addiction to carbohydrates that will need to be broken. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed with cravings for carbs after the first few days on the plan. This is normal. Your body is used to running on a diet full of sugar and carbohydrates. It will take some time to adjust to this new way of eating. Normally, these feelings don’t last more than the two-week induction period. Stay committed to this new way of eating and you will see the benefits quickly.


Overcoming plateaus on the Atkins diet

If you are experiencing a stall or plateau in your Atkins weight loss efforts, you are not alone. This occurs from time to time. However, you first must make sure that you have actually reached a plateau point.

A plateau means that you have gone an extended period of time without losing weight or inches. It’s important to take your measurements before you start your weight loss plan, in addition to your weight. On some weeks it may not seem like you are losing any at all on the scale. But a quick look at your measurements will prove otherwise.

On the Atkins diet you are replacing fat with muscle, which is denser and heavier. You might actually gain a little weight because you are building muscle to replace your fat. The result will be an increase on the scale, but a decrease in your inches. Your body will be smaller and leaner, but you may weigh the same.

Before you start your program, measure your chest, waist, hips, upper arms, thighs and calves. You never know where you may be losing inches, so it’s important to have these comprehensive measurements to refer to. It is normal to go through periods where you body is readjusting. Remember that you are reforming the composition of your body and this process will take some time. Check your measurements once a week, just like your weight, and you can track your overall progress.

There may be periods of 3 to 4 weeks where you have a stall in weight loss, but a loss in inches. Or vice versa. Using both methods to track your fat loss is the best assurance for an accurate measure of your progress. These stall periods are not a reason to quit or to give up. They are natural parts of the weight loss process.

Stalls may occur more frequently if you are 5 to 10 pounds away from being at your goal weight. By following a low-carb, high-protein way of eating you have created a lot more muscle in your body. Your muscle-to-fat ratio is higher than ever before, so your body might be resisting losing anymore fat. It may be time to rethink your goal weight. Perhaps your body is trying to tell you something and its time to start maintaining your weight loss rather than trying to lose more.

There are some other possible causes of stalls and plateaus on the road to weight loss. If you’ve gone four weeks with no change in weight or measurements and you are nowhere near your goal weight, you can try a few different methods to get yourself out of the rut. First, make sure your carbohydrate level is in check. If you are eating too many carbohydrate grams per day, your weight loss will stall. Look for hidden carbohydrates in packaged foods, dressings and sauces to make sure they aren’t the culprits in your plateau.

Check your daily water intake. When you are dehydrated, your body will retain water and that can mimic a plateau. Water will also help flush ketones from your system and make more room for new fat burning ketones.

Undereating can also be a cause for weight loss plateaus. Make sure not to let yourself go hungry and eat smaller, more frequent meals. Remember, you are on a carbohydrate-restricted diet, not a calorie-restricted diet. Make sure to have some protein with every meal and snack. Never go more than 5 hours without eating something (except overnight of course). Also, eat freely from the acceptable foods. Don’t try to count calories or restrict your calorie intake. When your body gets too few calories, it goes into starvation mode and will hold onto fat cells.

Increasing your exercise level can help get you through a plateau as well. As your muscles get used to working out at a certain level, you’ll have to increase the duration or the intensity in order to keep challenging your body. Add a new exercise into the mix, or try increasing weight in resistance training.

Trying one of these methods will most likely get your weight loss back on track. Remember that occasional stalls are normal, but they do not have to last.